Australian Government guidance on the Optus data breach

Aviation emissions

Managing the Carbon Footprint of Australian Aviation

State Action Plan

Australia is implementing a State Action Plan on managing Australia's aviation carbon emissions (submitted to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in 2017) DOCX: 5773 KB PDF: 824 KB. The Action Plan details a strategy for improvements and efficiencies in aviation environment practices in Australia, such as:

Air Traffic Management

Australia's air navigation service provider, Airservices Australia, has implemented a range of measures to improve fuel efficiency such as flexible flight tracks, improved air traffic control sequencing, continuous descent approaches and better management of aircraft on the ground.


Australian airlines are introducing newer, more fuel efficient aircraft into their fleets. Airlines will continue to refine their operational procedures to minimise fuel use, including reduction in weight of cabin items and reduction of engine ground running time. Qantas, Jetstar and Virgin Australia have also introduced voluntary carbon offset schemes which enable passengers to purchase carbon offsets for their flights.


Australia's airports are also putting in place a range of measures to manage their contribution to climate change issues. In particular, measures include green star rated commercial developments on airports, energy and water audits, recycling and creation of biodiversity zones.

Domestic and International Emissions

Under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), domestic and international aviation are treated separately. Domestic aviation emissions are counted as part of country targets while international aviation emissions are dealt with separately as part of Australia’s participation in ICAO.

Domestic Aviation Emissions

Domestic aviation emissions are monitored through the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting scheme and are addressed by the Department of the Environment and Energy and the Clean Energy Regulator through several mechanisms including:

  • The Emissions Reduction Fund, a voluntary scheme that aims to provide incentives for a range of organisations and individuals to adopt new practices and technologies to reduce their emissions.
  • The Safeguard Mechanism, a framework for Australia’s largest emitters to measure, report and manage their emissions. It does this by encouraging large facilities, whose net emissions exceed the safeguard threshold, to keep their emissions at or below emissions baselines.

International Aviation Emissions

ICAO has set medium-term goals of improving fuel efficiency by 2 per cent per annum and keeping the net carbon emissions from 2020 at the same level. ICAO is also exploring the feasibility of long-term global aspirational goals for international aviation.

To achieve these aspirational goals and to promote sustainable growth of international aviation, ICAO is seeking to develop and adopt actions which can be categorised within a basket of measures that includes:

  • aircraft technology improvements;
  • operational improvements;
  • sustainable aviation fuels; and
  • a market-based measure

Australia is actively participating in the international development of these measures and is working with industry to incorporate these efficiencies into the Australian aviation industry.

Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA)

The CORSIA is the market-based measure that was adopted by ICAO in 2016 to cap carbon emissions from international aviation at 2020 levels.

The CORSIA commenced on 1 January 2019 and will be implemented in several phases. The initial phase is the Baseline Period, which requires airlines that are eligible to participate in the CORSIA (determined by the scale and nature of their international operations) to monitor, report and verify their emissions from international flights. The emissions data will then be compiled into a global 2019-2020 emissions baseline. In future phases of the CORSIA, international airlines will be required to offset international aviation activity above this baseline.

Airline offsetting requirements under the CORSIA are voluntary from 2021 – 2026, with mandatory offsetting requirements commencing from 2027 for most nations. Australia is joining 80 other ICAO Member States (representing over 76 per cent of international aviation) in volunteering to participate in the offset requirements of the scheme from 2021.

Three Australian airlines have been assessed as being eligible to participate in the CORSIA. Further information on the CORSIA can be found at the ICAO website, or alternatively please contact